Tags: written - prose - cut_adrift -

The Meeting That Made A Difference

by Sanjeevan Sriskandarajah

The Meeting That Made A Difference

I could see blurring images which were gradually getting duller and my mind was clear, filled with white dreamy clouds and a lovely colourful rainbow streaking across the white heavenly sky. Suddenly I heard a thundering voice booming aloud and with a flash my clear sky with its lovely rainbow started to disappear in a whirl. The blurring images started to come back to me but this time they were getting clearer. I saw a ghostly face in front of me saying something. It was then that I realised where I was, I was sitting in my GP's car on the way to see my last patient visit. It was my friend who was telling me that we have reached the place and asking me to get out of the car. I had been in a world of my own, day dreaming. I saw our GP getting out of the car and I summoned every ounce of energy left in me to move my legs and get out of the car. My muscles felt as if they were ten times heavier than before. I was tired and wanted to get over with this visit and head back to the surgery where a hot cup of tea and some tasty biscuits would be awaiting me. I finally managed to get out of the car and followed my friend and my GP towards a small house with a garden which was well kept and properly maintained. Our GP rang the bell and introduced us to Mrs Rhodes, an old lady who answered the door. My friend and I decide that we were going to ask some questions and get back to the surgery as soon as possible as we had already written about another patient, that we visited last week, for submission. Our GP was performing his usual ritual of introducing us and inquiring Mrs Rhodes about her general health and finally thanking her for taking the time to talk to us. This was an act that I had seen my GP perform many times at the doorsteps of the patients that we visited.

When our GP left, we were invited by Mrs Rhodes into the house. Her living room was filled with pictures of her children and grand children. We sat down on her comfy couch and she was sitting opposite me. At first I did not notice but now it became clear that she was speaking in a funny hiss. She had an operation where they had to remove her larynx and from then on she had to speak with a hiss. I could see her throat bloat like a balloon and the air hiss through a hole that was punctured in the neck and a plastic rim placed there to stop it from closing. I was terrified as I sat there watching her. I could fell the muscles around my neck tighten and my breathing became deep and laborious as if someone was pressing a pillow on my face. I could feel my heart beat furiously trying to pump blood to my brains. I could feel the throbbing pulse at my temples as if my head was about to blow up into pieces. I was surprised by how unsettled I felt. I glanced at my friend and could see that he was feeling the same as I was but he bravely started to talk to Mrs X. After sometime I started to make out words from those hissing sound that she was making, I started to understand what she was saying. I found out that it was not so hard once you got used to it. She told us all about her life before this operation and how it had all drastically changed after. I was taken back and at the same time impressed by the strong will that Mrs Rhodes had to go on with life as best as she could and enjoy what life had given her instead of sitting in a corner and moaning. This meeting taught me look at people not just skin deep but much deeper.

Sanleevan Sriskandarajah

*name altered to maintain patient-confidentiality


As a doctor you will have to meet different types of people with different types of illness. Each patient would be unique in his or her own way and you may not like some of your patients. It is very easy to come to an opinion about people and sometimes this may be by just looking at a person's appearance. As in this visit I learned how easy it was for me to feel so uncomfortable at first, but as I talked with her and got to know her, I found out the true person inside her. I felt that I had learned an important lesson, that medical school is not all about lectures. I was glad that I could do this piece of writing as I finally had a chance to write down and express my view and I enjoyed it immensely

 Whole Person Care